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Saturday 28 September
Chester 3 Leamington 3
National League North
Attendance: 1,853 Half Time: 1-1
Booked: Jones, Jackson.

Chester: Griffiths, Waters, Grand, Jones, Taylor, Jackson, Burton, Glendon, Dudley, Hughes (Waring 68), Asante. Subs not used: Roberts, Elliott, Mahon, Elliott.
Leamington: Weaver, English, Hood, Mace, Lane (Keane 68), Taylor (Dunbar 34), Clarke, Carline, Anderson, Edwards, March. Subs not used: Shamsi, Flanagan, Gittings.
Referee: Matt Corlett.

Chester twice came from behind and had Matty Waters to thank for a point following his last minute goal. Chester made no fewer than five changes to the side knocked out of the FA Cup at Altrincham with both Akwasi Asante and Matty Hughes starting up front.

It was the visitors who started on the front foot with Jack Edwards shooting high in to the Harry Macc terrace following a headed knockdown. Russell Griffiths reacted quickly to cut out Connor Taylor’s dangerous cross, and it came as no surprise when the Brakes took the lead on 15 minutes as Josh March prodded the ball home from six yards out following a long throw-in.

Four minutes later Chester were level as James Jones rose to head home a Joel Taylor corner. March had the ball in the net again minutes later but referee Matt Corlett had already blown his whistle for a foul.

The Brakes were awarded a penalty on 30 minutes as Jones fouled March in the box but the Leamington striker stepped up and blasted his effort high and wide of the goal.

Within 20 seconds of the second period starting the Blues were ahead as George Glendon took advantage of an Anthony Dudley pass to fire past Jake Weaver in the Brakes goal. However Chester's leaded lasted just four minutes as Edwards looped a header past Griffiths from a Joe Clarke free-kick.

With twelve minutes remaining Leamington restored their lead as Kaiman Anderson raced onto a long through ball and lifted it over the advancing Griffiths.

Joel taylor blasted a free-kick over as Chester pressed for a third goal. With the match entering stoppage time a foul on Simon Grand just outside the box presented the Blues with another effort. Up stepped Matty Waters to score via the underside of the bar to rescue a point that keeps Chester in second place.

Picture © Rick Matthews

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Tuesday 24 September
Altrincham 1 Chester 0
FA Cup Second Qualifying Round replay
Attendance: 942 (243 Chester) Half Time: 1-0
Booked: Mahon, G.Roberts.

Altrincham: Thompson, Densmore, Hannigan, Moult, White, Johnston, Jones, Richman, Hemmings (Peers 71), Hancock (Williams 84), Hulme (Hampson 84). Subs not used: Mullarkey, Harrop, Torrance.
Chester: Griffiths, G.Roberts, Livesey (Jones 40), Grand, Waters, Jackson, Burton, Glendon, Mahon (Taylor 67), Waring, Elliott (Hughes 65). Subs not used: Murray, Asante, Dudley, Thomson.
Referee: Dean Watson.

A James Jones headed goal is enough to knock Chester out of the FA Cup as Altrincham progress to play Halesowen Town in the next round.

Chester made four changes to the starting X1 that drew 1-1 on Saturday, in came Gary Roberts, George Waring, Craig Mahon and Danny Elliott to replace Joel Taylor, Akwasi Asante, Anthony Dudley and Matty Hughes.

The game was just two minutes old when Jones headed home an Ashley Hemmings corner past Russell Griffiths at the near post to give Alty the advantage. Jordan Hulme almost added a second minutes later as he was inches away from connecting with John Johnston’s cross.

Chester slowly got back into the game and Waring and Matty Waters both saw efforts from the edge of the area blocked. Waring again had a sniff of goal but dragged a shot wide on 18 minutes when well placed.

Russell Griffiths made a great save to deny Hulme at the other end with Gary Roberts well placed to clear the follow-up off the line.

Five minutes before the break Chester suffered another injury with Danny Livesey hobbling off to be replaced by James Jones.

On 50 minutes the Blues thought they were level as Waring headed home a George Glendon cross at the far post only for referee Dean Watson to disallow the goal, presumably for pushing.

Once again Griffiths was called into action to make great save to deny Ashley Hemmings with Waters mopping up before Hulme could latch on to the loose ball.

Danny Elliott headed wide from a Waters through ball, and a timely tackle from Andy White denied Waring another chance on goal as time began to run out for the Blues. It was the home side in fact who created two late chances that Griffiths and his defence kept out before watson blew for full time to end this season’s run in the competition at the first hurdle.

Picture © Rick Matthews

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Saturday 21 September
Chester 1 Altrincham 1
FA Cup Second Qualifying Round
Attendance: 1,804 Half Time: 1-0
Booked: Murray.

Chester: Griffiths, Waters, Grand, Livesey, Taylor (Jones 46), Glendon, Burton (Murray 46), Jackson, Dudley, Hughes, Asante (Waring 90+1). Subs not used: Mahon, Cottrell, Thomson, Elliott.
Altrincham: Thompson, White, Hampson, Jones, Hannigan, Moult, Johnston, Richman, Hulme, Hancock (Williams 90+7), Hemmings. Subs not used: Peers, Densmore, Mullarkey, Harrop, Torrance.
Referee: James Westgate.

The Blues were without the injured Kevin Roberts and the suspended Jamie Morgan for the tie, as a result Matty Waters made his first start of the season at right back.

Once again, as in recent games, Chester got off to a great start and opened the scoring after just two minutes as George Glendon, who recently extended his contract at Chester, slipped the ball to Matty Hughes who shot into the bottom corner from fully 20 yards giving Tony Thompson no chance in goal.

Danny Livesey needed treatment after a clash of heads as Chester dominated possession but couldn’t create any more chances.

Josh Hancock headed over the bar for the visitors following a 22nd minute corner. Minutes before the break Bradley Jackson made a fine probing run down the right only to be denied by a last ditch Tom Hannigan tackle.

Hulme missed a great chance to equalise for Altrincham as the first half drew to a close, as he poked the ball just wide from a corner that the Blues defence had failed to clear.

Chester brought on Iwan Murray and James Jones for Scott Burton and Joel Taylor at the start of the second period.

Akwasi Asante almost grabbed a second goal straight after half-time volleying straight at Thompson after collecting a great Jackson pass.

A great save from Russell Griffiths prevented Hulme from finding the net as he raced onto a through ball, the Blues ‘keeper needed treatment for a bloodied nose that saw the game stopped for 11 minutes.

The Altrincham equaliser came on 75 minutes as Hulme crossed for Hancock to head past Griffiths into the far corner.

Chester responded as Livesey saw a back post header saved by Thompson and with minutes remaining Jackson cut inside only to see his left-footed effort curl just inches wide of the post.

But there was to be no way through for the Blues, and the two sides must battle it out again on Tuesday night at Moss Lane for the right to travel to Halesowen Town in the next round.

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Saturday 14 September
AFC Telford United 1 Chester 3
National League North
Attendance: 2,085 (775 Chester) Half Time: 0-2
Booked: Grand.
Sent-off: Morgan.

AFC Telford United: Wycherley, White, Streete (Lait 58), Deeney, Sutton, Lilly, Daniels, Walker (McQuilkin 68), Dinanga, Williams (Reilly 68), Knights. Subs not used: Royle, Brown.
Chester: Griffiths, Morgan, Livesey, Grand, Taylor, Burton, Glendon, Jackson, Dudley (Elliott 72), Asante (Waring 70) Hughes (G.Roberts 67). Subs not used: Mahon, Jones.
Referee: Ed Duckworth.

A perfect hat-trick from Akwasi Asante made for a perfect day out for the 775 Chester fans who made their presence felt at the New Bucks Head on a glorious September afternoon.

To cap off their day out, Chester were on top of the National League North for a few minutes, which cued the return of the ‘top of the league’ chant we’ve not heard for a long time. If City continue to play in the way they approached this Telford game, it won't be long before that refrain is heard again. As it was, the Blues finished this match in the runner-up spot.

While hat-trick hero Asante was the star man of the game, there were great supporting roles from Matty Hughes and Brad Jackson. In fact, Hughes provided the cross that enabled Asante to head for home on the 11th minute.

Although Telford had started the match as a confident home side, they were very much on the back foot after that. Just 11 minutes after that opening goal, another Asante goal made the game look lost for the hosts. This time the pass to Asante came from Joel Taylor, and while the frontman’s initial strike was saved by Telford keeper Andrew Wycherley, he made no trouble finding the net from the rebound.

The half-time break gave Chester fans time to work out when Asante’s next goal would come, according to his goals-to-matchtime averages. In the end, he did secure that hat-trick just before the predicted time of 61 minutes. It was Brad Jackson’s turn to be supplier after a fantastic run from the half-way line and a well-placed cross saw Asante find the net after another Wycherley rebound in front of a delirious travelling army.

There were just two moments to spoil the day for the away supporters. First a cross from Telford’s Chris Lait saw Lewis Reilly score with a header to give Chester a nervy final 20 minutes.

The flying Dutchman was substituted for George Waring on the 70th minute and his walk to the dressing room, past the packed away terrace, gave his supporters a chance for a handshake and a selfie or two!

But a red card for Jamie Morgan after a questionable challenge on Lait on the 81st minute bought the away nerves back into focus. However the 10-man Blues held out to earn another three points on their travels and a move up to second place in the National League North.

Sue Choularton

Picture © Rick Matthews

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Saturday 7 September
Chester 3 Guiseley 1
National League North
Attendance: 1,989 Half Time: 2-0
Booked: Dudley.

Chester: Griffiths, K.Roberts (Morgan 8), Grand, Jones, Taylor, Burton, Glendon, Jackson, Dudley, Asante (G.Roberts 69), Hughes (Waring 69). Subs not used: Mahon, Elliott.
Guiseley: Allinson, McNally, Nicholson (Johnson 79), Barkers, Bencherif, Garner, Shaw, Spencer (Starcenko 60), Martin, Felix, Cantrill (Jones 46). Subs not used: Digie, Scrivens.
Referee: Peter Shacklady.

With Danny Livesey suspended for this match Chester managers Anthony Johnson and Bernard Morley opted to select Salford loanee James Jones to partner Simon Grand in the centre of the defence.

Once again Chester got off to a great start against a team lying one place below them in the table. The game was just two minutes old when Bradley Jackson racing down the right crossed the ball for Matty Hughes, he set up Akwasi Asante who couldn’t miss from a couple of yards out.

Kevin Roberts pulled up with a hamstring problem in the first ten minutes and was replaced by summer signing from Nantwich Town Jamie Morgan making his Blues debut.

Chester pushed for a second goal and almost got it through Asante who was unlucky to see a superb effort cannon back off a post. The Blues did double their lead though on 29 minutes as Morgan was upended in the box by Brad Nicholson and Asante crashed the resulting spot-kick past Lloyd Allinson, sending the Lions ‘keeper the wrong way.

Jones almost added a third just before the break but his header from a corner was cleared off the line by Reiss McNally.

The Blues were given a let-off early in the second per ion when Guiseley’s top scorer Aaron Martin shot over from inside the six yard box following a corner. Scott Garner was also guilty of missing a great chance for the visitors shooting high and wide after Russell Griffiths had partially cleared a free kick.

Chester scored their third goal on 71 minutes as Anthony Dudley took advantage of some slack defending before rushing through on goal and slotting the ball past Allinson.

Eight minutes from time Guiseley scored a consolation goal as Martin out-jumped Jones to head a corner past Griffiths. The dying minutes saw Allinson make two good saves to deny substitute George Waring and Dudley before the final whistle saw the Blues leave the pitch to a great reception from their fans.

Picture © Rick Matthews

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Monday 2 September
Curzon Ashton 1 Chester 3
National League North
Attendance: 870 Half Time: 1-1
Booked: Burton.

Curzon Ashton: Mason, Halls, Askew, Wroe, Shaw, Thornley, Sinclair, Banister (Wall 80), Saunders (Elstone 80), Miller, Regan. Subs not used: Davies, Merrill, Cooke.
Chester: Griffiths, K.Roberts, Livesey, Grand, Taylor, Glendon, Burton, Jackson, Dudley (Murray 73), Asante (Waring 73), Hughes (Elliott 73). Subs not used: Morgan, Mahon.
Referee: Jon Kenny.

The beginning of September, the nights closing in and a continuous drizzle descended on the Tameside Stadium as Chester continued their busy schedule. After perusing the vast array of non-League programmes in the club shop and deciding whether or not to join the huge queue in front of the refreshment kiosk, Cestrians gathered in the main stand and under the large cover in the middle of the opposite terrace.

The Nash had made a moderate start to the season with only one league win against Darlington to their name so far but proved last season that they are no pushovers. They included in their ranks a couple of ex-City players – Sean Miller up front and Andy Halls in midfield, with Liam Davies on the bench. As the match kicked off City, all in yellow and still smarting from controversial and late defeat at Spennymoor a couple of days ago, began on the front foot. The hosts were pinned back and only half cleared the first foray when Taylor picked the ball up and got it to Glendon. His deft cross to the far post found Grand who headed it back for Hughes to nip in at the near post and flick it home for an early lead. Glendon himself had an opportunity to shoot after Asante had wrested the ball from a defender but his effort eluded the far post.

Gradually the hosts clawed their way back into the game and began to dominate possession. As a cross was cleared out to Chester’s left, Halls ran to retrieve it and spun to launch a cross deep towards the far post. Regan rose to nod a looping header past Griffiths for the equaliser. City then were subject to an uncomfortable passage of play as the Nash pinned them back, picking up on every clearance and maintaining the pressure but without adding to the score. As half time approached, City rallied a little. But as spectators watched trains lit up like luminous caterpillars trundle their way in and out of town and the queue for refreshments moved even more slowly opposite, most thought that the game was now in the balance.

Within minutes of the restart however, City had grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck. First Hughes lifted the ball over the full back for Jackson to run on to and the winger made for the by-line, and delayed his cross perfectly for Asante to pounce and drive it in to goal at the near post. City – with their tails up – went further ahead soon after when Kevin Jones powered home a header from Taylor’s corner kick.

Blues were now well in control but the Nash tried valiantly to respond. Miller flashed a shot across goal and Sinclair also shot wide whilst Griffiths had to leave his line to deny Saunders. Taylor continued to maraud down the left and set up Jackson to seal it but the Chester winger pulled his shot narrowly wide. Kevin Roberts gave a masterclass in defensive full back play in front of delighted Blues fans and Scott Burton capped a great display with astute positioning to clear a Curzon effort off the line.

After the final whistle the City players rejoiced in front of their exultant fans. As they sang “we’re on our way…” Asante lead the dancing. The travelling supporters made their way off into the murky night with light hearts.

Colin Mansley

Picture © Rick Matthews

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